What was the CHA Mega Show 2014 in Anaheim, California like for a guy who is not a crafter? Amazing actually. Let me tell you my story.
First, in the briefest of autobiographies, my name is Mike Nally and I’ve been married to Scrapbook Update’s editor Nancy Nally for over 20 years. My career background is in business and technology. My creative background can most simply be described as “photographer and technology geek”. The world of papers, adhesives, paints, and the like has always been a bit confusing and overwhelming for me. But, now that I’m a full time member of the Nally Studios LLC team, we realized that I needed to increase my education about the space in which we do our work. It was time for me to go to my first CHA Mega Show.
I could probably write a book trying to describe all of the fantastic moments I experienced at the 2014 CHA Mega Show. But, before someone hits me with a “TL;DR” let me try keeping this article to the point by giving you some of the highlights.
I can’t begin to describe what an wonderful welcome I received time and again from the people I met while in California. The world of CHA is obviously a tightly knit family and I am humbled that I was so quickly welcomed into that family with warm handshakes, pats on the back, and a wonderful collection of hugs.
And the enthusiasm these same people feel for the craft and hobby space? Incredible is the only word that seems to fit. There is a passion that I honestly have never seen from any other group of enthusiasts. Not only are they very proud of their contribution to the space with their various products and services but there is an undercurrent that their products and services are providing tools to create things that are important. Crafting is more than a past-time. It is about building legacies and recording the “now” for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. It is about carving out small pieces of immortality. Does that sound over-the-top? It would have to me as well had I not experienced it myself.
And hard working? It seemed everyone – the attendees as well as the exhibitors – was in constant motion! To stop felt like a lost opportunity to see something incredible or to engage with someone amazing. It didn’t take long for me to get caught up in the energy myself. By the end of the week I was wonderfully exhausted along with everyone else.
I must admit, what I was expecting from the show was row after row of paper, adhesives, and embellishments. What I found instead was a creative diversity that was shocking and wonderful to discover.
And these pictures only scratch the surface of course. So many different ways of expressing yourself. It was overwhelming but I’m very energized to keep exploring all of the possibilities. I may not ever be a traditional scrapbooker or take up knitting but that hardly means that there isn’t room for me at the creative table.
Again, there is no way of truly describing just how large this show is. I’ve been to several huge industry trade shows for both the computer and automotive industries and this show floor was still amazing. I did what I could to capture a few images to demonstrate the volume of exhibitors and products available to explore. However, if you find these images at all impressive, take what you imagine they demonstrate, and multiply them by about ten and then you will be close to understanding just how many wonderful people and wonderful products are a part of the CHA Mega Show.
I was pleasantly surprised to see how technology was carving out (no pun intended) a place in the world of crafting. From complex cutting machines down to the re-imagining of classic tools, the space is welcoming the movement the rest of the world is caught up in when it comes to gadgets. Okay, maybe “welcoming” is a bit generous. I did feel that many people are cautious when it comes to technology invading what they feel is a simpler space. I get it. If I choose to put down my iPad or turn off my television to take some time to create in the physical world it seems counter-intuitive to turn on another gadget in order to do that. The key was balance. Show how your new tool, be it a pair of scissors or a 3D printer, fits into my creative process without causing me to lose my emotional connection to what I’m doing and we can talk. And a number of exhibitors were doing a great job of doing just that. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
I could go on and on with this article. I never even got to how fantastic all of the educational classes were that I was able to attend. So many people in this space “get it” and know that education is what will help them accomplish their goals within the craft and hobby world. Be it just for fun or for business the educational opportunities are something I wish more attendees would take advantage of in the future.
Put simply, the craft and hobby space is alive and well and I couldn’t be happier to now be a small part of it. There is room for traditional crafters as well as people like me who are interested in pushing the envelope. What was most special for me was the energy I felt from nearly everyone I met. There is a true passion to see the craft and hobby space not just survive but to grow. That passion was seen no more clearly than from folks that work so hard to put this show on, the executives and staff of the Craft and Hobby Association. A quick thank you to all of you as well.
Another fan boy is born right? Well, yes and no. The space is far from perfect. Many are holding on too long to the past refusing to see that the industry needs to change and evolve. Others are moving too far away from the core in an effort to reinvent the space at the cost of losing its soul. But, then, when is anything this exciting and organic ever perfect?
If there are any specific questions I’ve left you with please feel free to put them in the comments below. I’d love to talk more about anything else you might be interested in that I may have glossed over or have missed in the interest of brevity. Thank you for your time.